Christmas celebrations are likely to involve lots of alcoholic drinks.
However, experts warn that over-indulging can have consequences for your health.
It is well-known that drinking too much for years on end can cause brain damage, liver cancer and alcohol hepatitis.
But alcohol abuse can impact your health much sooner than that – and it’s more serious than a hangover.
“The body is more than equipped to cope with the odd binge or moderate drinking,” said Rob Hobson, nutritional director at Healthspan and co-author of The Detox Kitchen Bible.
“But if you have a long period of consistently drinking large quantities of alcohol then this can impact on your physical health, general wellness and mental health.”
These are the four ways alcohol can impact your health if you overdo it this December.
Bingeing on alcohol can leave you seriously depleted in certain important vitamins.
“Alcohol can increase the demand for certain nutrients used to help the body deal with alcohol, such as the B vitamins,” warned Hobson.
B vitamins, which include vitamin b12, niacin and biotin, are important for energy and converting food into fuel.
Absorption of vitamin B12 from beef, dairy and eggs can be particularly affected by alcohol, and signs of deficiency include tiredness, breathlessness, headaches, pale skin and heart palpitations.
Even moderate drinking can cause inflammation off the stomach which stops cells making a substance called intrinsic factor, which boosts absorption both key B vitamin.
A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to build-up of a compound called homocysteine, which in the long term could lead to heart attack and stroke.
The popular abbreviation for ‘man boobs’, moobs could be caused by excess drinking this month.
According to Don’t Bottle It Up, alcohol affects the biochemical pathways outside of the brain by changing the function of our endocrine system, which produces hormones.
This means our sex hormones could be altered, and men may experience a rise in oestrogen and progesterone.
In turn this could cause reduced sperm count, erectile dysfunction and ‘moobs’ from enlargement of breast tissue.
Women may get abnormal periods and become more aggressive and irritable.
The festive season is a nightmare for the waistline, what with all the mince pies, chocolate advent calendars and turkey on offer.
“Drinking can change the way you eat and the food choices you make, which can impact on health and weight,” said Hobson.
“It can also cause erratic eating patterns such as skipping breakfast or binging.”
He suggested complementing any partying with a nourishing, balanced diet.
“Lean proteins, high fibre grains, plenty of veggies and healthy fats will help, and avoid excess sugar and unhealthy fats that will only put an excess strain on your liver,” he recommended.
However, the calories in alcohol are not insignificant themselves, since it is produced from sugar or starch.
The NHS warned that a glass of wine could contain as many calories as chocolate.
Drinkaware pointed out that a pint of beer is the equivalent in calories to a slice of pizza.
Drinking too much can have a unpleasant effect on your bowel movement.
According to Don’t Bottle It Up, alcohol irritates the small intestine, in addition to lining of the throat, stomach, and large intestine.
If the small intestine becomes inflamed it can impact on the absorption of nutrients that pass into the large intestine and trigger diarrhoea.
Regular bouts of diarrhoea could cause malnutrition and dehydration.